Edtech Pushes Lifelong Learning

Edtech pushes lifelong learning

During the Corona crisis, schools have struggled to bring education online. But the pandemic has only shed light on a need that was already there. And now the edtech market is growing rapidly.

Imagine an early morning in 2030. We are in Båtsfjord, in the North of Norway, where Roar has just logged on to his computer at home, ready for a new day of studying business interaction and international entrepreneurship. After 25 years in fishing, he has gone ”back to school” for an education that will give him new opportunities, hopefully in the international market. Roar and his fellow students from 20 different nations study in a digital, seamless system that’s available anytime and anywhere.

Roar is not in a unique position by continuing his lifelong learning or finishing an international degree from his home. He is an example of a modern learner seeking an education that is not easily replaced by automation and artificial intelligence, but rather is focused on creativity and collaboration.

A market that is growing

Today we’re still quite far from this scenario. Education within lifelong learning is grossly under-digitized, with less than 3 percent of expenditure on technology. At the same time the digital education market has grown rapidly during the last decades. The total expenditure in edtech is expected to double, reaching 342 billion USD by 2025, with an expected compound annual growth rate of 12 percent in the period.

2019 was also a record year for edtech investments, with 187 deals totaling 1.2 billion USD. Of all edtech investments in Europe, 18 percent are invested in the Nordic markets, indicating a growing market in this region.

So we’re on our way. This development is accelerated by the evolution of working life in the 21st century, which has given rise to the development of new skills. More and more people are willing to educate themselves as a part of lifelong learning. Higher education matriculation data from 2020 shows that the applicants were older than ever before, on average. This can be partly attributed to the Corona crisis, during which a significant part of our workforce lost their jobs or were furloughed. But it is also a sign of these new learning habits – which need new solutions.

The biggest challenge to speed up digitization is to replace physical meetings and classroom lectures – which are still an important part of university education. This traditional type of learning is very institutional and people-driven. Thus, a key opportunity is to replace classroom training with edtech, but many content creators lack the knowledge to make the change. Due to the number of stakeholders involved, such as universities, professors, government, international institutions etc, the speed of digitization in the education sector has been estimated to be at about one-fifth of the speed seen in other sectors.

 Education is a tool to improve health, equality, peace and stability

In the Nordic countries, there are some new players in this market, including Coursera, EdX and Udemy (Inspera), international companies with local connection in the Nordics. The traditional Nordic educational institutions have not yet tried to take a significant role. So, there are still openings for strong players to take a broad position as a ”change agent” for lifelong learning. Not just for distribution or a marketplace, but also to contribute to delivering today’s classroom training with edtech solutions – and with the opportunity to reach a broader, international audience.

Education is one of the greatest tools we have to reduce poverty and improve health, gender equality, peace and stability. This is easily underestimated in the Nordic countries, but nevertheless important to remember. For communities, education drives long-term economic growth, innovation and fosters social cohesion. All of these are strong incentives for continued growth of the edtech market. For Roar, digital education will open the door to new job opportunities. It will stimulate economic growth in his local community. And it will give the world a new, global employee.

Ragnhild J Buch

Ragnhild J Buch
Business Developer
Years in Schibsted
What I’ve missed the most during the Corona crisis
Meeting colleagues on a daily basis.